6 Ways to Build Influence in the Workplace

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We all face a variety of situations in which we must influence, persuade, or convince others. Its important to build influence in the workplace

How do you – regardless of organizational position — influence others in a positive way to get results and increase your credibility?

I certainly don’t know all the answers, but here are a few strategies that have proven successful with employees, managers, and executives in a variety of organizations. See if any of them work for you.

No one strategy is better than others. You must choose what works in your situation with the person or persons you wish to influence. Influencing others is a complex process and there are no easy answers, so persistence is a critical attribute along with some of these techniques.

1. Determine where the influence lies in your organization.

Titles are not the only indicator of influence. There are often sources of informal power. You must take the time to discover who really wields the influence. Who, above, below, or next to you has the ability to influence higher-ups, persuade a group to his or her thinking and get things accomplished? So how do you discover this?

Well, there are several ways. Listen to the organizational stories you hear, make a point of going to lunch with different people and ask to attend meetings as a “stand-in” when your boss can’t be there.

During those meetings, observe and take note of the strategies that people use to get their way in these meetings. What works? What doesn’t? Is it what they say or how they say it? Both? You can learn a lot from the people that are already doing it well.

2. Develop a group of mentors and advisors.

It’s sort of like your own advisory board. Develop relationships with a group of people you trust, who have your best interests at heart, who can offer advice and suggestions and act as a sounding board.

They don’t all have to come from within your organization.  In fact, it’s better if they don’t. Many small companies form advisory boards to help them with their decisions.  Think of yourself as a small company and form your own board.

3. Be sure to seek input ahead of time.

Don’t surprise people in meetings and expect to get their support. You must prepare your case carefully in advance. First, ask for their ideas on the issue. This will help get their “buy in.”  When they’ve contributed to something, even if it is just one idea, they will be more likely to support it.

4. Be persistent, flexible and resilient.

One of the most difficult things to do is to bounce back when someone has squashed your idea. Don’t give up if it doesn’t work the first time. If you had received a tentative “yes” from members of the committee before the meeting, yet several people wavered during the meeting, ask yourself what you could have done differently? Maybe something happened between their commitment and the meeting to change their minds. Go back and keep trying!

5. Get good at meetings.

Use the powerful listening skills of eye contact, credible body language -proper posture (don’t slump – Mother was right) and taking notes when appropriate. Show a presence by taking up some space. Spread your papers around and lean on the table occasionally.

Remember that using positive influence is a skill that can be learned, no matter what position you hold in your organization. To influence others takes time, energy, confidence and resiliency.

Trevina Broussard is a Customer Service training consultant. To have her speak at your meeting or to develop a customized in house workshop for your organization, call 713-771-4402 or contact us via support@trevinabroussard.com.